7 Boxes To Check For Your Kids To Be College Ready!

by | Jun 1, 2023 | General

Image of college students walking on campus

Sallie Mae’s Higher Ambitions 2020 states that 94% of high school students aim to pursue further education after graduation. While not all choose college, setting goals and planning can improve decision-making. Completing these seven steps will set you on the right path.

Step 1: Research the schools that capture your attention

Around 50% of high school seniors have explored colleges. What’s your preference? State or private? Big or small? Close or far? Does your career choice impact your decision?

Top college considerations:

  • Matching programs with your career/major
  • Location of the school

Step 2: Rising costs are real

College costs have surged, with tuition and fees increasing yearly by 5.1% for public four-year colleges and 3.9% for private ones from 2000 to 2020, though the pace has slowed. If you need funds for university, student loans are an option without shame.

But remember, loans must be repaid; don’t overextend and face a burdensome post-graduation repayment. Scholarships and grants are vital too, often overlooked sources of free money. They fall into three types: need-based, merit-based, and special scholarships.

Explore these resources:

  • 50 top scholarships for online college students.
  • 20 featured scholarships for veterans.
  • Quick college cash through easy scholarships.
  • Trade school scholarships.
  • While these ideas help, conduct your research. Seek local funds from Education departments or government agencies. Some banks offer scholarships too; please ask about their criteria.

Step 3: FASFA is key

Around 60% of high school seniors have submitted the FAFSA for their freshman year by April. Completing the FAFSA is free, yet it can unlock substantial college financial aid. Since some aid is given first-come, don’t delay; time is running out.

Usually opening on October 1, the FAFSA’s 2023 opening has shifted to December due to changes. Even if you won’t take loans, finish the form to avoid missing scholarships, grants, and work-study chances.

Step 4: Test-taking wanes in influence

The SAT or ACT is becoming less of a requirement nationally, and many colleges and universities are now test-optional. If you’re considering the SAT or ACT, test prep classes and practice exams are available online.

Step 5: Essays and letters of recommendation increase your odds

Abundant resources exist for college essay writing; a Google search shows options like U.S. News and World Report’s “How to Write a College Essay.” Begin early.

Also, gather recommendation letters from teachers, counselors, and principals that emphasize your strengths. Share a “tip sheet” to enhance personalized letters.

Step 6: Take a trip

Indeed, visit your desired schools. Campuses differ, so connect with the admissions office for guidance. On-campus tours let you experience various aspects: dorms, library, classes, dining, and more. This visit might solidify a college choice, or reveal it’s not the right fit.

Step 7: Your guidance counselor is there for you

College applications can be overwhelming, but your high school counselor can simplify things with helpful advice. Counselors can also nominate students for scholarships, so building an early relationship is wise for potential financial aid.

How do you climb a mountain? Put one foot in front of the other

If you’re heading to college next year, or even in the next couple of years, breaking up your prep work into smaller tasks can help reduce stress and give you a sense of achievement. Start your prep work today, and you will be amazed by what you’ll learn and the challenges you’ll overcome.